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Defending champions the United States have reached the semi-finals of the 2019 FIFA Women’s World Cup, beating hosts France 2-1 on Friday.
Megan Rapinoe scored twice before Wendie Renard got one back for Les Bleues as the U.S. advanced to a last-four tie against England.
France conceded an opening goal on home soil for the first time in 2019 when Rapinoe arrowed a free-kick past Sarah Bouhaddi in the fifth minute.
While it was a fine strike, Bouhaddi might have got across to it quicker:
FOX Soccer @FOXSoccer
DREAM START FOR THE USA! 🇺🇸
@mpinoe’s free kick gets past everyone as the @USWNT takes an early lead once again! #FIFAWWC https://t.co/K5oHYnCyvD
The U.S. were causing plenty of problems early on by going direct. Rapinoe and the rest were taking on shots whenever they found space in and around the box, while the pace of Alex Morgan had Renard and the France defence on their heels.
French nerves soon settled, though, once the U.S. failed to add to their lead. The majority of the opening half saw Les Bleues do the running, promoting a stubborn rearguard action from the visitors.
In particular, full-back Crystal Dunn was in exceptional form to subdue Kadidiatou Diani. The lively winger had been France’s biggest threat at these finals, but Dunn was tracking her movement well and not falling for any of her tricks.
Maurice Edu @MauriceEdu
45 mins to go! Curious if France move Diani centrally or swap wings bc @crysdunn_19 has been very good this first half! 👏🏾👏🏾lets gooooooo! @USWNT
France had been stunned by a quick goal in the opening half and nearly fell victim to the same thing as the sound of the whistle that signalled the restart still echoed in the air:
Match of the Day @BBCMOTD
#USA made a great start to the first half – and almost made an even quicker start to the second.
Straight from kick-off!
📺 Watch LIVE on @BBCOne!
Also here: https://t.co/A52qwQxVQ0
Sam Mewis’ involvement in the move summed up her industry and ingenuity throughout the game. The 26-year-old was the driving force for her team, knitting together the midfield and forward lines with breaks from deep.
France needed to show similar endeavour, and it was Amandine Henry who showed more than most. She began to roam beyond midfield and proved her threat with shots from the edge of the area.
Henry needed more help from those ahead of her, but with Diani still struggling, Eugenie Le Sommer shot into the side netting on the turn.
Despite the miss, France were piling on the pressure and making the U.S. look uncharacteristically shaky. It was against the run of play then when Rapinoe made it 2-0 on 65 minutes, finishing well after being found by a smart pull-back from the impressive Tobin Heath.
ESPN Stats & Info @ESPNStatsInfo
Megan Rapinoe scores again! #USAvFRA
She is the first player to score 2 or more goals in back-to-back WWC appearances since Marta in 2007. https://t.co/sV7533Ix9z
Even after seeing the deficit doubled, Les Bleues didn’t give up hope. A necessary change saw Delphine Cascarino come off the bench to try her luck against Dunn, and the Lyon forward immediately started finding some joy.
Cascarino helped France keep the pressure on, and the reward came when Renard made amends for more than a few defensive lapses by heading in from a free-kick.
France thought they were owed a penalty soon after when Kelley O’Hara appeared to block an Amel Majri cross with her hand. Nothing was given despite furious appeals from the home side.
Ultimately, the U.S. had taught France a painful lesson in the value of clinical efficiency in front of goal.
The United States will face the Lionesses in Lyon on Tuesday.